Monday, 6 August 2012

Need some parenting advice... Please read and help if you can.

I  didn't set this blog up to give advice, just to share my experiences.

I am really fortunate; I have an excellent support network, I have my  fiance, my mum and sister round the corner, my parents in law at the end of the phone, ex-colleagues who have kids, new mum-friends from playgroups... I am really lucky, I have a lot of people around me,

So I set up this blog, to share my parenting stories, help others who may not have the same support. Because it's not advice that you want to hear, just experiences, as sometimes someone else is going through the same as you.

But for the first time, my support network can't help me. Together we are stumped.

So I am asking you, followers, Internet friends, twitterers and fellow parents to read, share and offer any advice you have.

In February my middle child (who is about to turn 3) had his tonsils and adenoids removed and grommets put it. This is a really heavy op for a 2 and a half year old to have. I only recently understood how heavy when different specialists  told me this op is something surgeons will hold off undertaking for as long as possible.

In our case, the specialist examined Jonty and then booked him in for the earliest operating appointment he could get; things must have been bad.

Only looking back I realise that they were.

He had suffered from chronic nose infections since he was born, he snored as loud as a grown man, suffered from sleep apnoea and was constantly tired and irritable, plagued by nose and ear infections.

The illness was bearable, but it was the way it was affecting his development and personality that broke our hearts.

Although we had flagged this up with Doctors since he was born and been told "babies are mucus-y", it was only when I had shared my concerns about his speech and hearing that they referred us to a specialist. The hearing test showed he wasn't localising any of the lower volumes, we couldn't get a percentage of his hearing loss as he completely flipped when they tried to put headphones on him, but the department's reactions showed us this was not good.

Afterwards, the surgeon who operated on him said his tonsils and adenoids were enormous, quite possibly the biggest he had seen.

Pre-operation his speech had lacked progression, he was still only using the handful of words he had formed a year earlier and the rest of his noises were undecipherable baby language. He had found ways to communicate, but he had never said "Mama", didn't attempt to craete a word for his brother and was frustrated that the world couldn't undertsand him. So he bagan to shut us out.

We had slowly watched him turn from a smiling bubbly baby to a shy, introverted toddler. He would remove himself from social situations, isolate himself at play groups, and was reluctant to interact with his grandparents or aunites and uncles.If visitors came to the house, including our family, he would take himself off upstairs. Shutting the door.

Post - operation we have slowly seen him return. A new day brings new words. He is confident, sometimes to the point of cockiness, and at my brother's wedding a few weeks back  he was the life and soul of the party. He couldn't get enough of socialising.

I can't tell you how good this has been. The interaction, the moments, hearing him say my name, reading a book together, laughing and giggling over words, sounds; enjoying together the world around him.

Things are good; everything is falling into place.

Apart from one thing...

In December (2 months before Jonty's op) I gave birth to my third son Leo. He is a wonderful baby. He rarely cries, pretty much slept for the first 3 months and is always smiling.

However,now he is 7 and half months and become quite vocal, The usual stuff: teething noises, babbling, exploring sounds and he does have quite a loud cry if something startles him.

Last month Jonty started whimpering when Leo cried. And if we were somewhere where I couldn't comfort Leo or Jonty, like pushing them in a buggy on the school run, or driving in a car, this whimpering would turn to a full-scale tantrum where Jonty became hysterical, inconsolable and distressed.

This has now escalated so when Leo makes any noise at all, a babble, laugh or a yawn, Jonty screams, wails or shouts.

I was hoping when the holidays came, with my partner being off and two of us on hand, this would be ok, but things are getting worse.

And it's wearing us all down. If you have any advice, please share it with me. He has come so far and is doing so well it's heart breaking to see him so traumatised by his own brother's voice.

So here's some more info:
  • Jonty doesn't like it when any child cries, his older brother, or some one at play group hurting themselves will reduce himto sobs.
  • No other noises seem to effect him , but when we were watching a live swing band the other day he covered his ears
  • Jonty has never interacted with the baby, generally he isquite wary of him.
  • When I had Leo and Jonty came to hospital to see me, he caught sight of his brother and buried his head in his dad's shoulder and wept.
  • Jonty's speech is improving, but he you can't reason or explain yet... he is still learning to follow simple instructions and interpret sounds

This is what we have tried:
  • Reassurance, lots of cuddles and comfort when he cries
  • Possitive association, encouraging Jonty to play with Leo.
  • (not ideal, only in desperation) Separating them different rooms, different floors
  • Sending Jonty upstairs to his room to play when he does it
  • Reasoning
  • Talking
  • Calming
  • Shouting (when pushed to it)

Please help, offer advice, or share this blog to see if anyone you know has been in a similar situation.

This is the only part of my parenting where I have thought "I can't do this" and that really isn't a nice feeling, if it wasn't for this one thing, life would be perfect. I know I am very fortunate to be able to say that, but I do need some help with this bit...

Thank you x x


  1. Having a few kids with such different personalities is a bit of a mine field in my experience. One or two things that pop out at me is that Jonty may have sensory issues, different pitch sounds may be a problem for him something that mightn't of been so noticeable in his early development due to the tonsils/adenoid problem. Our youngest son has very sensitive hearing covering his ear frequently at load noises/ hand dryers etc. a book I found quiet good with our strong personalities is 'raising your spirited child' it gives a few good tips especially with kids with sensory issues but also has to be taken with z pinch of salt! Another great tip I've picked up along the way is 'to draw it out' it works in terms of helping him explain. I've learned that sometimes when there's something going on for them they don't have the same words as us to explain how they are feeling so getting them to just draw really helps, they can do it after you've had a little chat or just a little 'I know you're stressed so why not sit here for a minute and draw a picture to help you calm down" they don't have to explain the picture to you or you don't even have to know what it is but to them it's like talking, it's getting it out of there heads and on to a page. I found this really helpful when our eldest was having a tough time in junior infants, her class room was quiet stressful with a very loud and shouty teacher who basically kept her on edge but Tara couldn't understand how to deal with the stress. It also gives them a method to self regulate if you like. Hope these tips help, at least you know your not alone in having worries about your bunch. It seems to be part if the parenting journey :) but also what's really important is to have time to yourselves too (sounds a bit condescending) but seriously time off helps you recharge your own batteries xx

    1. Thanks Aine... i really like the drawing idea, and I'm going to research the sensory issues. Sound advice. It definitely is full of surprises and hurdles this parenting lark isn't it? Hope your bunch are all well.

  2. all well here thankfully just the normal ups and downs :) Btw i hope you don't think I'm suggesting Jonty has some sort of sensory disorder more likely something like sensitive hearing.

    1. That's what I thought you meant - sensitive hearing x x

  3. I can't give any advice as such, the above comment was excellent, the only thing that came to mind was that it might be a jealousy/wary thing regarding his new brother - when Leo cries, he's getting attention, so Jonty ups his game by also crying and demanding more attention. Sounds like this has been so. so challenging for you, and that you are doing the very best you can do! Big hugs!

  4. I really feel for you reading this. I can only imagine how hard the situation must be, and I am in awe of you being able to keep it enough together to even ask for advice. I think I would have gone crazy long ago. I have no where near as much child rearing experience as you do, and so I am in no position to give you any useful advice on that front I am afraid. It is really your son's condition which has lead me to comment.

    I myself have hearing difficulties. When I was young, the doctor told my dad I was partially deaf, (or hearing impaired, as it is now known) and we just trotted on really. I never gave it much of a thought, and neither did anyone else to my knowledge. It is normal for things to take a bit longer to learn when you can't hear so well, but we all get there in the end. Anyway, I would get upset and scared a lot. I still do. I can't have the radio on in the car, I feel anxious around loud traffic and often get a bit scared when I am drying my hair. Before my typing this, my partner is the only person I have ever told. I know it sounds pretty ridiculous. It is also difficult to explain. I would say that it is not so much painful, as extremely irritating and confusing. It is due to my inner ear not being properly formed I suppose. It is possible that he does not find the noise comfortable. If he has always had nose infections, he will need to adjust to hearing normally. I found it very hard, and it took me a long time to adjust to having a hearing aid as an adult. When I was a child, my dad let me carry a pair of panda ear muffs which I was allowed to put on when noise upset me. I know this is not a great solution, but I think he must have been as desperate as you are now.

    Also, just before I would complain, or at the moment I stopped, he would congratulate me on being quiet. I think this is how he stopped my public displays.

    Good luck with your current situation. And remember; all suffering is temporary!

    Jess x